As local industry grows, so does small business

By Amy Weibley, Interim Executive Director, Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce


Chambersburg’s location on the I-81 corridor has made it a prime spot for industries like manufacturing and logistics. As more and more distribution centers and manufacturing facilities located here over the years, with them has come growth. The county’s population is estimated to be 153,851, an increase of more than 4,200 people from the 2010 Census. The population growth ranks Franklin County as the sixth fastest growing county in the entire state of Pennsylvania.


untitled_copy4The area’s new investment is bringing jobs and energy while maintaining the community’s quality of life and affordability. The addition of exit 17 and spur of development along Norland Avenue is a prime example. National chains like Buffalo Wild Wings and Pie Five Pizza Co. are popping up more frequently because of our town’s growth and its desirable location.


National companies and large corporations aren’t the only businesses springing up in Chambersburg. With our local economy showing growth and promise, entrepreneurs are seeking opportunities to start their own businesses in Chambersburg. Just in the past 18 months, 32 businesses have opened in Chambersburg, 24 of which are small businesses.

 

The residents of Chambersburg are extremely supportive of small businesses and make an effort to buy local, so these entrepreneurs find a supportive community to cultivate their business. GearHouse Brewing Co. is a great example of this. They opened with an outpouring of excitement and patronage from the community. People want a local experience, and they want to have pride in the businesses in their community, so they are supportive of entrepreneurs.

msa_copyIn addition to business growth throughout the Chambersburg area, the Chamber has seen a significant uptick of interest in businesses locating downtown. The hard work of revitalization efforts from the past few years of Chamber affiliate Downtown Chambersburg Inc. have come to fruition as more investments take place. Multi-million dollar projects by organizations and private investors are underway including the Coyle Free Library, Central Junior High School, The Shook Home Therapy Center and HUB Building. Other large-scale investments like the Fort Chambers building, 1 N. Main St. and 15 S. Main St. are in the works. Community-led efforts like the Chambersburg Community Mural Project in summer 2016, which installed two large-scale mosaic murals downtown, have contributed to the vibrancy of downtown. 


All of this has spurred smaller investments and attracted small business owners. For the first time in years, there are no available Main Street storefronts between King Street and Washington Street. Just in the past year, nearly 20 businesses have either opened, relocated or plan to open downtown.


It is fantastic to see our local small business owners and residents recognizing the assets downtown. Downtowns are the heart of a city and region - and having a healthy heart is essential to having a strong town. With the community working together, we can revitalize downtown and make it a vibrant destination for business and leisure.

However, the answer isn’t revitalizing downtown alone. Downtowns and surrounding areas along with industry and small business must work symbiotically to grow the economy. Strengthening our downtown core will complement the development happening throughout the area, which will attract more people to live here while encouraging investors and entrepreneurs to seek opportunities here, in turn improving quality of life for Chambersburg as a whole making it an even better place to live and work.nflkds_copy1

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